Who Are The Greatest Winners Of The Premier League & What Were Their Records?

2019/20 will mark the 28th edition of the Premier League.

Over it’s nearly three-decade existence, the world’s greatest domestic league has seen an array of memorable title-winning sides. Some have scraped home, while others have coasted to a title with weeks to spare, but all have lifted the same coveted prize.

When it comes to winning the title in style, the points tally is the main consideration, and in the Premier League’s 38-game era (1995/96 – present) one team alone stands prominent as the most stylish winner in existence.

Most Points, Goals, Wins and Away Wins

That team, obviously, is Manchester City, and 198 points over two seasons is an extraordinary tally.

If Pep Guardiola is not already the greatest Premier League manager of the past ten years, he certainly will be if current title odds are reflected in the standings come May 2020. Last season presented its own challenges, with City looking increasingly unlikely to retain the title at one point, before roaring back to win 14 consecutive matches as highlighted here – http://blog.marathonbet.co.uk/, in an article saluting the Premier League champions.

However, 2017/18 was the one that broke all records, with a late goal from Gabriel Jesus at Southampton being enough to see City reach the magic 100-point mark.

In practice, this meant that City had dropped just fourteen points all season, and the club’s tally of thirty-two wins also broke the existing record. Matching it in the season just gone also took a lot of character, and left nobody under any illusion that City are the team to beat.

The 2017/18 season also saw City score 106 goals, which also served to grant them the best title-winning goal difference (+79). Their aim, surely, will be to break that record in 2019/20, and with City bringing flawless form since February into the new season, Guardiola’s men unquestionably have the necessary momentum in their favour.

As an added bonus, City also boast the highest tally of away wins in any Premier League season, with their final-day victory at St Mary’s being the sixteenth of 2017/18.

Most pundits still think that a 100% season away from home is impossible, but having recovered so brilliantly to snatch the title away from Liverpool last season,

City – and all those who love the undisputed Premier League champions – must surely believe that anything is possible.

Fewest Defeats

City’s monopoly over all the meaningful Premier League records is almost complete. However, there is still only one team in history that has gone undefeated en-route to a Premier League title.

That team is, of course, Arsenal – also known eternally as the ‘Invincibles’ of 2003/04. A specially-commissioned gold trophy was produced to mark the occasion, when Arsene Wenger’s men did the once-unthinkable.

Fewest Goals Conceded

This is but an afterthought when potent teams like City are lifting a hard-fought title, but it is one more record for Guardiola’s men to break nonetheless.

Back in 2004/05, Chelsea conceded just 15 goals en-route to a first title in half a century, with John Terry a colossus in defence alongside William Gallas and Ricardo Carvalho, and expertly marshalled by Petr Cech.

Most Home Goals

Even though City have thrashed esteemed visitors to the Etihad Stadium over the last two seasons, the existing ‘home goals’ record lies with Chelsea, with the club picking up a third league title in six seasons back in 2010. Much of that hinged on a springtime scoring spree, where Chelsea racked up wins of 7-1, 7-0 and (on the final day) 8-0 at Stamford Bridge.

The home tally for City to beat is 68, and though Guardiola’s preference for patient build-up is rightly the much-effective priority, the more bloodthirsty City fan would undoubtedly love to see City take this particular record too.

Biggest Title-Winning Margin

It’s that class of 2017/18 again, and Guardiola’s first successful title campaign with City also saw City win by a newly-high margin of nineteen points. City’s century utterly dwarfed the meagre 81 attained by declining neighbours Manchester United, who will likely stand as the league’s most distant runners up for a very long time.

Better yet for City, it beat the eighteen-point margin by which United won the title in 1999/2000.

Longest Reign

However, that pan-millennial season stands at the mid-point of another record City look set to break. There can be no denying that the late 1990s and the late 2000s belonged to United, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s peerless management seeing United win three successive Premier League titles on two separate occasions.

No other team has managed this feat since, but City could easily remedy this in 2020. In doing so, they will also be poised to win an unprecedented quartet of successive English league titles in 2021.

Biggest Deficit Overturned

City themselves overturned a seven-point deficit to Liverpool last season, and that gap certainly looked like more of a chasm as the Premier League went into 2019. Naturally, City’s 2-1 win over Liverpool in early January proved pivotal.

However, this particular record remains in Manchester United’s possession. In the week prior to the FA Cup’s fourth round weekend in (January) 1996, the Red Devils trailed Newcastle United by 12 points, but then came the inevitable turnaround, and Kevin Keegan never got the title he would have so truly “loved”.

Longest Odds Defied

Prior to 2016, no team had overturned truly astronomic title odds to lift the big one. However, that all changed when, in the summer 2015, Claudio Ranieri cobbled together a squad of misfits, rejects and also-rans, and created history.

5000/1 was the price against a team that had only just avoided relegation in 2014/15, and amongst the ‘rejects’ were new signings Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, both of whom had been shunned as youths in France for their lack of physical stature. Marc Albrighton, Danny Drinkwater and Danny Simpson were three Englishmen who never quite made the grade at their previous respective clubs, but formed a great bond on the field.

Most notable of all, however, was the presence of Jamie Vardy. Stockbridge Park Steels and Fleetwood were his battlegrounds prior to joining Leicester City, but he defied his modest past, breaking the record for the highest number of consecutive scoring appearances in the league.

Eighty-one points – a whole ten ahead of runners up Arsenal – was sufficient to see the Premier League trophy decorated in blue and gold. A few people also earned life-changing payouts from bookmakers, who are still wary of setting the bar too high, for fear of the same massive losses incurred in 2016!

Rodri Would Be An Ideal Signing For Manchester City

It’s being heavily reported that Premier League champions Manchester City are wanting to make Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri their latest new recruit.

The BBC have stated that City are willing to pay the player’s £62.6m release clause to get the deal through.

If the bid succeeds then it would see Man City break their own club record for a transfer and personally I think it would be worth every penny.

The difference between City and Liverpool, with the rest of the Premier League is that they identify what position needs filled that summer and go all out and bring in the best possible star to fill that role.

Pep Guardiola already has a terrific squad assembled at the Etihad. That’s why he spent big on goalkeepers and full-backs, positions most teams will overlook for as many creative midfielders and attackers as they could fit into their pools.

When you look at the current Manchester City squad, you’ll notice that they really need to bring in a new defensive midfielder to reinforce that position. Guardiola and the City scouting department have clearly spotted that and hence why they’ve earmarked Rodri as a must buy talent.

Now in Fernandinho, Man City have a fantastic holding midfielder. Yet they don’t have anyone else in the side that can compete or fully replace the Brazilian.

There’s a few issues here.

Firstly Fernandinho has just turned thirty-four and playing as a defensive midfielder takes a big toll on your body, especially in such a creative team as Pep’s Man City. The Brazil international also seems to miss a small chunk of a season due to injury and fatigue and in those periods The Citizens aren’t as strong, plus they’ll usually be more vulnerable to dropping points without him shoring up the midfield.

Rodri would give City a new gunslinger that can hold his own defensively in midfield. He was extremely dependable last season for Atleti as he played in over forty games.

The twenty-two year old won on average 3 tackles per Spanish top flight fixture, Fernandinho would win 2 per Premier League game. Rodri is also very good in the air, he won 2.3 aerial duels in La Liga last term (Stats from Whoscored).

Now we all know that Guardiola likes all his players to be good with their passing and keep possession. That’s especially important in the midfield area with Fernandinho recording passing success rate of over 87%. Rodri went even better though as he hit passing success stats of 91.1% and that will have made Pep sit up and take notice as ball retention is so important to the Spanish manager.

Rodri is player with an excellent first touch and has great awareness. In many ways he reminds me of a young Sergio Busquets, a player who became a pivotal player for FC Barcelona during Guardiola’s days at the Camp Nou.

The value of bringing in Rodri this season is also very significant. £62.6m isn’t overly expensive in this current transfer market, especially for a young Spanish international with experience playing in the Champions League.

The timing is also very important. Bringing in the young Spaniard now gives the player time to settle in at the Etihad and City boss Pep likes to bring in top youngsters and give them time to settle into their surroundings. He understands that young players take time to get used to foreign leagues and that’s why he gave players like Bernardo Silva and Aymeric Laporte less starts in their early days at Man City. They learned from the bench and then came in knowing what to do after being gradually exposed to the rigours of the Premier League.

Get Rodri in now and you still have Fernandinho in your side that he can learn from.

The player is also pretty unassuming off the pitch and that’s another trait that Pep Guardiola will appreciate.

Manchester City are brilliant at spotting gaps within their squad and plugging them during transfer windows before it becomes an absolute priority.

If they sign up Rodri then they’ll have another top class defensive minded midfielder. He can come in and learn from Fernandinho and go onto become one of the world’s best holding midfielders and strengthening City’s spine for years to come!

Profiling West Ham United New Boy Pablo Fornals

 

West Han United have announced the signing of twenty-three year old Spaniard Pablo Fornals from Villarreal.

The BBC have stated that The Hammers have tied the player down to a five year deal and will pay an initial £24m for Fornals.

The player himself told the club’s website that he was happy to be doing the Premier League outfit:

“I feel very good, very happy, and very grateful for the opportunity and to be part of West Ham,”

So what should the West Ham faithful expect from their latest signing?

Well Pablo is a creative playmaker who can play as a number ten, as a central midfielder or on either wing. I think he’s best suited as an attacking central midfielder and was at his most influential in that position for Villarreal.

West Ham played in a 4-2-3-1 formation ten times in the league in manager Manuel Pellegrini’s debut season, that could become the norm now the Chilean has Fornals in his squad.

He’s a player that has a keen eye for a key pass and can usually spot a great through ball into the forwards. Fornals also possesses good close control and isn’t scared to dribble the ball through the opposition’s half. The Spaniard is also able to keep calm in high pressured situations and has the ability to keep the ball in those tough areas too. He is an intelligent star who uses that intelligence to create for teammates.

I have no doubts that the younger attacking threat would’ve learned a lot from spending the past twelve months playing alongside Santi Cazorla and that should help him as he gets ready for life in England.

Even though he has a flamboyant and creative side, the Spanish international isn’t scared of tracking back and will work hard for his team. He possesses a durability that could be important in the Premier League.

According to Whoscored, only two players created more chances than Pablo’s twenty-six in last season’s Europa League.

The youngster played in fifty games for his club side during the last campaign, scoring five and creating six assists. He also made two appearances for the Spanish national side.

There could be a question mark about his physical style as he’s a bit slight but the English top flight is becoming more continental in style and the rough and tumble hasn’t hampered the likes of David Silva or Bernardo Silva.

Personally I think West Ham United have signed a possible gem in Pablo Fornals. If the playmaker is allowed to flourish in the number ten role then he can make the Hammers more fluid in attack and get the ball into the final third in a much quicker fashion, that will certainly suit Pellegrini’s style.

 

Manchester United Should Make Richarlison A Major Summer Transfer Target

Manchester United should know by now that there’s no quick fixes in their search of becoming Premier League challengers again.

The current squad has too much deadwood in it and quite a few of their players look over the hill and stale.

The signing of Alexis Sanchez in January 2018 was almost a point of no return for the Jose Mourinho era and that of reckless spending since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013.

The Chilean arrived at Old Trafford to much fanfare and prestige. Along with his glitzy announcement video, the attacker was given a £390,000 a week contract (Sports Joe).

It’s a move that has impacted negatively both on and off the park for Man United.

Off the field, the Sanchez deal has become an albatross around the club’s neck.

Players like Paul Pogba and David de Gea have performed in the timeframe that Sanchez has been at United and believe that they deserve to have similar wage packets. De Gea only has a year on his deal left and he’s holding out for a wage pay rise, one Man Utd may not be willing or able to offer.

On the park, Sanchez hasn’t produced to a high enough level. The attacker has scored just three United goals in thirty-two Premier League appearances and he’s also contributed with six assists in those games. That’s simply not good enough for a forward who has been brought in to make a winning difference to The Red Devils.

It could be extremely likely that United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his board will be ready to cut Sanchez loose if they can find a willing buyer. It will no doubt still cost the Red Devils but it’s a move that will takeaway the large albatross and free up an attacking place in the team’s first team.

If Manchester United do sell Alexis then they should use that transfer as a way of moving back to a transfer strategy that looks to bring in hungry, younger talent that have the potential to become world beaters.

If United end up looking for a new attacking threat, then they could look to a player that’s playing close to home.

Richarlison proved he could handle the rough and tumble of the English game when he first joined Watford in the summer of 2017, last term he joined Everton for a big fee and it didn’t weigh him down.

The twenty-two year old played in thirty-five top flight appearances last season and played across all positions in the frontline and he scored an impressive thirteen goals. That tally included strikes against United and Chelsea.

The forward is powerful, pacey and direct. The young forward knows when to run into the penalty area, can be very effective in the air and isn’t shy in using tricks to get beyond opponents either. Those are attributes that will excite the United support.

Richarlison, unlike Anthony Martial, would also give Man Utd an attacking threat that can offer something defensively too as he’s tenacious and not scared to get physical with opposition defenders. Richarlison has the skill-set to become a top player! 

He’s also hungry to succeed at the highest level and he’s got the potential to improve greatly. 

His impressive maiden year at Goodison helped Richarlison to break into the Brazilian national team set-up and win his first cap. The attacker has taken to the international game like a duck to water, scoring fives times in his first ten caps. This summer the Toffees’ frontman will represent his country at the Copa America in his homeland. 

Media reports have suggested that the red half of Manchester are looking at Richarlison as a possible transfer target this summer, the player himself has stated he’s flattered by the interest but also said he’s in no rush to leave Everton (Via The Mirror):

“It’s a nice feeling when you get praise for your good work,”

“But I’m not thinking about a transfer at the moment.”

“I’ve just arrived at Everton. I’m happy here.”

Everton won’t be easy to deal with and won’t want to sell their prized asset. Looking at the statement above the player doesn’t seem interested in forcing a move either. 

That could mean that Manchester United will have to spend big if they stand a chance of getting the Brazilian. 

In my opinion, they should definitely go out and make a huge play for one of Brazil’s top talents. He surely fits the profile that Man Utd have always looked for in exciting young players that can be difference makers in the tense encounters. 

Harry Maguire Isn’t Worth £80m!

According to Sky Sports both Manchester United and Manchester City are interested in Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire.

The same report suggests that Harry’s current employers don’t wish to sell the England international and have put a £80m price tag on the defender’s head.

That, for me, is a ridiculous price for the twenty-six year old. It would see the Foxes ace leaving for £5m more than Virgil van Dijk did in early 2018.

I get that it’s a ridiculous market these days and I don’t blame The Foxes for holding out for that fee if they don’t wish to sell their central defender.

But in reality, Harry Maguire is a player that has just three years experience in the Premier League and zero appearances in the Champions League. The player also hasn’t won any major pieces of silverware in his career thus far.

Both Manchester sides need to bring in defensive recruitments.

United were woeful at the back last term and it’s clear they need to improve next season but they could probably bring in two players at the same price. Quick fixes haven’t solved Man Utd’s problems in recent years and I’m not sure Maguire would come in and instantly shore up the backline at Old Trafford.

Premier League champions City have lost inspirational leader Vincent Kompany. The Belgian legend has left the Etihad to become the Anderlecht player-boss. I’m not sure Maguire possesses the experienced needed to fill the massive hole that Kompany has left behind him and you’d expect that if you paid £80m for his signature.

Now again I’m not a hater of Maguire. He’s very good in the air, can be a threat in the opposition’s penalty area and he wins plenty of challenges.

Man City boss Pep Guardiola isn’t a manager that just wants his defenders to defend. His defensive men also have to be comfortable with the ball at their feet and not make too many errors.

Harry had an 85% passing success rate last season and that isn’t as good as any of City’s central defenders last year. Maguire in particular isn’t as good when he’s passing the ball in the opposition’s half. Maguire also picked up quite a few cards and that can be costly.

If either United or City could get the defender for £20m less than the £80m asking price then that would represent a much better deal but again Leicester City would be totally justified to reject anything lower than their valuation.

The defender doesn’t seem interested in pushing for a move and that gives Leicester City all the cards when it comes to dealing with potential suitors (Via Leicester Mercury):

“Leicester’s an exciting club to be at − Brendan has really improved the team in the recent months, and he’s someone we’re looking forward to working with,” Maguire told the BBC. “I’m sure he will take the club forward.

“He’s definitely got his own aspects in the game, and I’m sure he will improve us.”

“After a good pre-season, I’m sure he’s the man that can help us break into those European spaces.”

Maybe being Scottish I’m a bit of a tightwad when it comes to money but I can’t see any justification in a team spending a world record fee on a defender that’s still hasn’t won a title or played in the Champions League.

Luka Jovic Signing Shows That Real Madrid Are Moving On From Ronaldo

Real Madrid have confirmed that Luka Jovic will join the club from Eintracht Frankfurt this summer.

Spanish news outlet Marca are reporting that the fee agreed is in the region of €60m.

The transfer is pretty significant because it’s the first time in around ten years that Los Blancos have signed a proper number nine.

In fairness, in that time they’ve been served admirably with Karim Benzema often amongst the goals and creating the space needed to get the best out of superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

But goal-machine Ronaldo departed the Santiago Bernabeu last summer and quite frankly Real haven’t looked the same without the Portuguese genius leading the line.

In the 2018-19 season, Real Madrid scored sixty-three times as they finished in third place in La Liga which was a full nineteen points and twenty-seven goals behind champions FC Barcelona.

Be in no doubt, Jovic has been brought in to bang in the goals that Madrid need to compete once again in Spain and in the Champions League.

The young Serbian will be tasked in replacing Ronaldo.

A tall task for anyone, especially for a twenty-one year old.

But Luka was extremely impressive for Frankfurt last term. He grabbed seventeen Bundesliga goals and added ten more strikes in the Europa League.

The youngster is a composed finisher, who can score with either foot or with his head! He comes alive when the ball arrives in the box and he’s smart and instinctive with his finishes.

It might sound funny to say it but Luka Jovic is a striker who loves grabbing goals. That brings with it a ruthlessness and a hungry quality that all prolific hitmen possess.

He showed last term at Frankfurt that he can work well with a partner up top. Sebastian Haller was the perfect foil alongside Jovic and maybe that could become Benzema’s role at the Bernabeu next season.

Last night Real announced that they’d also completed the signing of Chelsea maestro Eden Hazard. Luka loves one touch finishes and Hazard will create numerous chances for the Serbian. 

Jovic stated that on his Instagram (Via Goal) that it was a dream come true to join such an illustrious club: 

“Real Madrid opens a huge door for me to become an even bigger footballer. Every child has this dream of playing at such a club. My dream comes true now.”

That should tell us that Luka Jovic is ready to arrive in Madrid and is determined to become a goalscoring hero for Los Blancos. 

The Spanish giants have started this summer with a bang in the transfer market. They’ve seen that they needed to rebuild and forget about Cristiano Ronaldo. 

In Luka Jovic they might now have a striker that will once again shine in the number nine! 

It’s going to be extremely interesting to see how Zinedine Zidane sets out his new team and if they can start the season with a bang! 

Newcastle United Should Be Interested In Alfredo Morelos

Rangers fans will tell you that Alfredo Morelos is a terrific striker and that he’s destined to play in a top league.

Non Gers Scottish football fans will tell you that Morelos isn’t worth the risk because he’s a liability.

A wee gander at the Colombian’s stats will show you that both arguments have their merits.

The striker has scored forty-seven goals in eighty-seven appearances for the Glasgow giants in his two seasons at Ibrox.

In the Scottish Premiership last season, the attacker received four red cards in his thirty appearances.

It looks increasingly likely that Alfredo will leave Rangers this summer, as long as potential suitors look beyond his poor disciplinary record.

Newcastle United are the latest club credited with an interest in the player. The Scottish Sun have stated that reports from Colombia suggest that The Toon could make a £20m move this summer.

A lot will depend on the Premier League club’s owners. At the moment Sports Direct owner  controls the club and I’m unsure he’d wish to give such a big sum (or even half of that) to Rangers, given his courtroom battles with the Scottish side. But The Magpies are in the midst of takeover talks involving affluent Bin Zayed Group and they could offer up a hefty transfer kitty if they buy the English outfit.

Personally I think Morelos would tick a lot of Newcastle Utd’s boxes when it comes to recruitment.

At twenty-two years old, he’s still pretty young and will possess re-sale value if he does well at St James’ Park.

The young forward has been extremely prolific since touching down on European soil, first at HJK Helsinki and now at Rangers. His form at Rangers has seen him receive his first call-up to represent the Colombian national team, he’s now got three caps for his country.

While it’s true that Morelos didn’t score against Celtic, he did manage to find the net against every other top flight side in Scotland. He’s also score eight European goals in twenty-one continental appearances.

Current Rangers teammate Jermain Defoe knows a thing or two about scoring in the Premier League and he thinks Alfredo Morelos would score in England’s top league, given the chance (From The Scotsman):

“If you are asking me if he (Morelos) is good enough to play in the Premier League, of course. I believe that if he played in the Premier League, he would score goals. I don’t think anything would change. He is a natural goalscorer.”

Alfredo’s a forward that has grown into becoming a focal point for his team. He can lead the line and play as a lone striker, battling away with defenders and linking up with attacking midfielders. Plus he can also play as part of a striking team, running onto flick-ons or coming deep/go into the wings and create space for another hitman.

The fee of £20m is a bit on the high side and personally I think The Toon could negotiate that down. So instead of that you could bring him in for between £12m and £15m (all depending on the market and who else might be interested in his signature.

Newcastle’s need for a striker is well known, they’ll probably need at least two new recruits in that area.

Yoshinori Muto was poor in his debut season with the Magpies, Salomon Rondon’s loan deal is about to expire, it’s clear that Dwight Gayle doesn’t have a long-term future at the club and Joselu doesn’t offer you enough goals as a main striking threat.

Morelos has come on under Steven Gerrard and Rafa Benitez will believe that he has the tools needed to get even more out of the forward.

That’s why I think Newcastle United should be interested in the player, as he has a lot of raw potential.

Although that doesn’t mean that they should sign him.

They certainly would have to take into account his poor disciplinary record, although he didn’t have the same issues in Finland and I doubt he’d be as high profile a target in the Premier League.

Then there’s the last time Newcastle Utd spent big on a player from Ibrox. The memory of Jean Alain Boumsong struggling in a black and white jersey will still haunt some in Tyneside.

Personally, I think Alfredo Morelos would do better than many would think but I would certainly sign up another more experienced striker to help lead the line.

Why Signing Adrien Rabiot Would Make Sense For Manchester United

Recent media reports (Source – The Metro) suggest that Manchester United could be ready to make a move for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

Now many will look at that possible transfer with raised eyebrows.

The French internationalist has a history of ill-discipline and falling out with authority figures. According to The Independent, the player wrote to the French Football Association last summer to ask them to take him off the reserve list for the World Cup as he felt he merited a place in the actual squad.

He has had issues with turning up late for training and team meetings in the past and that’s seen him drop out of the team.

Adrien was last involved in a PSG match back in December, when he made a seven minute cameo in the Champions League win over FK Crvena Zvezda. It’s believed that he was banished to the reserves after stating once and for all that he wouldn’t commit to signing a new deal with the Ligue 1 champions.

People are also very suspicious of his agent, who also happens to be his mother. She too has had run-ins with some of PSG’s hierarchy.

In fairness, I always think there’s three sides to a story. PSG will have their side, Rabiot will have his side and then the truth is usually somewhere in between.

What isn’t in doubt is the player’s skill-set. Rabiot is a very tidy and effective midfielder.

What’s also not in doubt is that Man United need more midfield reinforcements. The United midfield has never been at it’s strongest since Paul Scholes first retired in 2011.

Fred was very hit or miss last term and if we are being honest more miss than hit. Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira are still quite young and raw midfielders, great to have around the squad but still not quite first team regulars.

Tall Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini departed Old Trafford in January, combative star Ander Herrera has announced he’s leaving this summer and Juan Mata hasn’t put pen to paper on a new deal and he too might leave during this offseason.

There’s even chat that once again Paul Pogba is looking for a way out.

So Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to be on the lookout for a few new midfielders.

Rabiot is a very accomplished performer; who has international experience, has starred in the Champions League and has won trophies at his previous club.

In the last five seasons, Adrien has only once not made 90%+ in his passing success rates when it comes to appearances in the French top flight or in the Champions League!

United need players in the engine room that remain composed under pressure and who can keep the ball. Rabiot is excellent when it comes to ball retention.

Since Fellaini moved to China, The Red Devil’s midfield haven’t been as strong when it comes to aerial battles. Rabiot is 6ft 1 and is strong in the air, last season he was averaging 1.6 headers per league game according to Whoscored.

A potential midfield threesome of Pogba, Rabiot and Nemanja Matic looks to be a fairly balanced one to me.

The transfer will no doubt appeal to the United board given there’s no fee involved and that could allow them to bring in more targets during the summer transfer window.

Don’t get me wrong, Manchester United will have to sit down with Adrien Rabiot and his mum/agent and see where they are mentally. If he’s focused and hungry to prove himself as a top star then I think they need to make him an offer and encourage him to show the world that he is indeed a top performer.

Saluting Liverpool’s Champions League Winning Defence

Liverpool managed to win their sixth Champions League/ European Cup title last night as they defeated Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid.

Now the match wasn’t a thriller as Jurgen Klopp’s men won 2-0 but the back four and their goalkeeper were terrific and have been all season.

The Reds lost to Real Madrid in last season’s final and a lot of blame was laid at the door of keeper Loris Karius. Now I don’t believe it was just the German’s fault, a team wins and loses as a team. That being said I don’t think Karius is a top class shot-stopper and doesn’t instil confidence into his defence.

Klopp and Liverpool were pretty ruthless and loaned Karius out in a two year loan deal to Besiktas. They then spent a whopping £67m on Brazilian number one Alisson.

The money was well spent as the number one has been superb in his debut season.

As well as being a great goalie, the keeper is also terrific when he has the ball played to his feet.

No team in the Premier League conceded less than The Reds twenty-two goals this year.

The Brazilian kept a cleansheet in yesterday’s final. He was hardly called upon in the first half but that didn’t impact on his concentration levels as Spurs started breaking through in the second half. He had two or three decent saves (Eight in total according to Whoscored) and made sure that he parried those efforts away from the danger zone.

His distribution was pretty good too and he even started a few counter attacks with his accurate passing.

The Liverpool defence are a lot more assured and comfortable knowing Alisson is waiting behind them!

Another vital cog in the Liverpool defensive machine has been Virgil van Dijk.

The Rolls Royce like centre-back has been an inspiration since he arrived at Anfield in January 2018. He never seems to panic, makes inch perfect interceptions and outruns most opposition attackers.

Since his arrival, Van Dijk has had to partner various defensive sidekicks and his presence always seems to get the best out of his teammates.

Last night, Virgil made sure that he smothered Harry Kane any time the England captain received the ball. A clearly rusty Kane just couldn’t get a handle on the fixture. At one point Son Heung-Min made a breakaway into the Reds penalty area but the South Korean couldn’t escape Van Dijk’s clutches as the Dutchman strode in and steered the ball away for a corner.

Alongside Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip gave another assured performance.

He bossed the ball in the air, winning three aerial battles during the final. He also claimed an assist by setting up Divock Origi to claim the game’s second strike!

The Cameroonian international has had a terrific last six months and the Telegraph are reporting that Joel  is on cusp of signing a new deal at Anfield.

It was appropriate that twenty-two year old Joe Gomez was called upon to help see the game out. Joe was fantastic during the first half of the season before injury curtailed the youngster’s campaign. His pace and ball playing qualities were excellent alongside Virgil in those early months of the season.

Liverpool probably have the two best full-backs playing today.

Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have had terrific seasons. Between them they’ve created twenty-eight assists this season. That’s sensational and they’re the two players that make this Liverpool team tick and transition the team from defence into attack.

They are both disciplined when defending, charge forward all day long and put in fantastic crosses that cause havoc in the opposition’s penalty area.

Even as their team struggled in possession for much of last night’s encounter both Robertson and Alexander-Arnold still produced a number of great balls into the box.

The dynamic duo also give 100% to the team’s cause and those are two foot-soldiers that Klopp knows that he can always count on.

It was emotional to see Alexander-Arnold happy but remain grounded after the final whistle was blown (Source – Marca):

“I’m just another boy from Liverpool whose dreams have come true,” 

“When we look back we won’t remember that it was a boring game,” 

“We’ll remember that we won the Champions League.”

I’m pretty sure the defence will see some changes during the off-season. The likes of Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne might be allowed to depart Merseyside and replacements will be sought.

But Jurgen Klopp knows he has a tremendous defensive core and that group will be there battling during every game during next season as they did this term.

People always love to gush over creative forwards but sometimes we need to applaud a great defensive unit and Liverpool have a superb defensive unit!

The Front Three That PSG Should Have Next Season!

According to Sport, FC Barcelona want to bring Neymar back to the Camp Nou.

The report suggests that the Catalan giants could be willing to add Ousmane Dembele into the deal as a makeweight and if I were Paris Saint-Germain I’d be willing to listen to such a deal as long as long as the La Liga winners also add at least £130m to the package.

I’m beginning to believe that Neymar is more of a distraction than anything else. The Brazilian superstar hasn’t made PSG better in the Champions League and that’s what he was brought in to do.

Yes he’s had injuries at important stages of campaigns but even with that he’s still a distraction as he parties away while his teammates toil.

Recent images from the Brazil camp show Neymar haul back a young Weverton, after the teenager nutmegged the forward. A younger Neymar would’ve been calling for more protection. after he’d rolled around the turf for five minutes, had it happened to him. While Weverton just looked non-plussed as he just got back into the training session.

That’s the thing with Neymar, especially since his move to Paris, he just doesn’t come across as a team player. He sulks when things don’t go his way and he’ll argue over set-pieces with teammates.

Don’t get me wrong, statistically Neymar is fantastic but you sometimes need more to be a great teammate. Ultimately, I believe the Brazilian attacker is bored with life in Ligue 1.

Dembele would return to France desperate to kick-start his career.

The French World Cup winner only started twenty league games in Spain last season and I’m sure the twenty-two year old will want to have more starts next term.

He scored eight league goals and created five assists in those La Liga outings and I think he’d get more if he played continuously throughout a season.

The youngster was at his best when he was performing for Borussia Dortmund and that was under current PSG boss Thomas Tuchel.

Ousmane shines on the left-wing and for France he works extremely hard for the team and sticks to his manager’s game-plan. That should be key if your main man is the centre forward.

PSG gaffer Tuchel told Skysports earlier this month that he could guarantee the future of key forwards Kylian Mbappe and Neymar:

“My wish is clear, but I can’t promise as that would be naïve and I don’t want to be naïve in this business.”

If it becomes a straight choice between the two, then I’d definitely keep hold of Mbappe over Neymar.

The hitman grabs goals, works harder for the team, is younger and is the player I’d build this PSG team around!

Kylian would definitely be my number nine and it would be his responsibility to fire Les Parisiens to European glory. He wants more responsibility after all (Source France24.com)

With the money that I’d expect them to bring in for Neymar, as well as Ousmane Dembele, I think the Ligue 1 champs should do their upmost to bring in Nicolas Pepe from Lille OSC.

The Ivorian was a sensation on the right-wing for Les Dogues. He possess electric pace, is very direct and has that key ability to know what to do when he reaches the final third.

Only Mbappe scored more than Pepe’s twenty-two French top flight strikes last season. The wideman also grabbed eleven league assists and that was the second highest in Ligue 1.

At twenty-four years of age, Pepe proved last season that he can excel in France and has all the tools needed to become a world class player.

If PSG have a front three of Dembele, Mbappe and Pepe then you have a fluid , balanced and hungry frontline. Importantly you would have forwards that will work well with each other and who will be there for each other.

I would also have an experienced back-up within the squad that can come in and help out. If Edinson Cavani is willing to play that role then great but I doubt it as he could get a lucrative first team offer elsewhere.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting should be nowhere near this pool of players. I’m still scratching my head thinking about that transfer, he must have the best agent ever!

Then you should give more time to young forwards coming through the ranks.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Timothy Weah. He didn’t get the minutes required during his loan spell at Celtic but that wasn’t really his fault and he still did well with the minutes afforded to him. It might make sense to loan him to a fellow Ligue 1 side next year.

All in all, I think PSG need to start a new cycle. They need to bring the age of the squad down and make it all about Mbappe!

If that means dumping Neymar, then so be it.